U.K. Seeks Help From German Business for Brexit Trade Deal

(Bloomberg) -- U.K. Brexit Secretary David Davis appealed directly to German businesses to help break the deadlock in the divorce talks as he warned the European Union not to put short-term politics before the prosperity of its people.

As time runs down for the talks, Davis told an audience of mostly business executives in Berlin that they were not passive observers of the Brexit process, suggesting they should act to help force the pace in the negotiations.

Unless the EU agrees to negotiate a transition period soon, Davis said companies in Britain and Europe will have to take critical decisions about their future operations before knowing what the final Brexit deal will be.

“There is urgency to this -- for all 28 member states, including the U.K. and Germany, and for our businesses and citizens,” Davis said. “My message to you is that when it comes to an implementation period, and our economic partnership, you are not detached observers, you are essential participants.”

The U.K. wants the EU to agree to allow talks to move from the terms of the divorce to a future trade deal and transition period at a major summit of EU leaders in Brussels next month. Progress has stalled over the rights of citizens, the Irish border and most critically -- money.

In an effort to ease the logjam, U.K. ministers are mounting a hectic round of diplomacy, with Prime Minister Theresa May attending a summit of European leaders in Sweden on Thursday and Friday. Davis flew to Berlin to make his case to a business audience at an event hosted by Sueddeutsche Zeitung.

Davis used the occasion to set out his most detailed blueprint so far for the new trade deal he wants with the bloc of 27 remaining member countries. It must include goods, agriculture, and financial services, he said. The Brexit secretary warned that an agreement modeled on the EU-Canada trade pact will not be good enough for Britain.

The country’s chief Brexit negotiator also underlined the scale of the trade ties between Britain and Germany, hinting at what will be at stake for German companies if the negotiations fail. He cited figures to make his case, saying one in three cars sold in Britain comes from Germany, or 810,000 in total per year. Some 220,000 Germans work for 1,200 U.K.-based companies, he said.

“In the face of those facts I know that no one would allow short term interests to risk those hard-earned gains,” Davis said. “Because putting politics above prosperity is never a smart choice.”

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